The Lost Powers That Be have made it clear to us, in their podcast and their statement at Comic Con, that the smoke monster is not made of nanobots a lá Michael Crichton’s Prey. Their use of the code “Nanites” in the glyph search and other small clues have led us to speculate, however, about other roles nanotechnology might play in the Lost universe.
Merriam-Webster defines nanotechnology as “the art of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially to build microscopic devices (as robots).” Wikipedia describes how common substances change properties at nanoscales. The larger surface to volume ratios allow for more interesting electrical and chemical reactions. The nanoscale world provides a multitude of new frontiers to explore. The uses of nanotechnology go far beyond the common conception of tiny microscopic metal robots.
The science fiction definitions are also useful to us since Lost is a work of science fiction. Encyclopaedia Galactica includes the following definitions:
nanite: generic term for a molecular or nanoscale device. A nanite may be biological (bionano) or mechanical (dry nano). The latter are also called nanobots.
viral nanotech: Nanodevices infiltrating other systems, making them construct new copies of the devices and possibly fulfill other functions… Engineered virus used as crude bionano, or as bionano vectors.
From these definitions we see that although the terms are frequently used interchangeably, nanobots are a subset of the category nanites. It is important to note that nanotechnology extends to biologically engineered viruses, especially in light of the revelations from the glyph video. Nanoengineered cells are in the works to do everything from fighting cancer to inserting snippets of DNA into a genome.
Merriam-Webster Online www.m-w.com
Encyclopaedia Galactica http://www.orionsarm.com/eg/n/Na-Nd
NSTI Nanotech 2006 http://www.nsti.org/Nanotech2006/
Special thanks to Admin, Ange, Marcus_Isn’t_Lost, and Fenris for the discussion that lead to this article.
-Twinkle & Crossfade